There’s no shortage of the best restaurants in NYC— you can find a great restaurant in every borough, every neighborhood, even within the same 5 blocks. With so much great dining available, the question doesn’t become when or where, it’s how? How can you attempt to eat all the wonderful NYC has to offer? The bad news is that you likely won’t (sorry), but the good news is we’ve put together a guide that will help you make your dining decisions easier. Each category of restaurants on our list will make it easier for you to eat well and take advantage of the NYC culinary scene. Here’s how we’re breaking it down:
BEST RESTAURANTS TO TAKE VISITORS
- Impress your guests with great food, hip locations, history, & ambiance
BEST RESTAURANTS FOR A QUICK BITE
- Discover delicious meals that will get you in and out of the restaurant, while leaving you satisfied
BEST RESTAURANTS TO TREAT YOURSELF
- Whether it’s date night, a special birthday, or a promotion, you deserve a taste of NYC’s best luxury dining & unique eating experiences
The best restaurants in NYC tend to transport you to another place in just one bite. Via Carota is one of those restaurants, an NYC favorite amongst locals and visitors alike. The rustic, quaint Italian decor and dishes will drown out the sounds of car horns while you immerse yourself in the atmosphere between bites of pasta, fresh fish, and perfectly roasted meats. Your guests will surely know of NYC’s reputation for Italian food. And while you have plenty of options to choose from, Via Carota is the kind of place that will impress your guests and make them feel like they are in the know— locals dine here too, and they love it.
Thai Diner brings a Thai twist to classic New York City diners. And while you might have picked up on that from the name, Thai Diner will impress both you and your visitors the moment you walk in. The decor has a kitschy Thai feel, with wooden tables, brightly colored plates, and Thai music, just to name a few of the unique elements. And you’ll find exquisite dishes that will put your local diner to shame. Pad Thai served with a mountain of crispy fried chicken, disco fries in a succulent curry gravy, and Thai babka french toast are the kinds of comfort food your visitors likely don’t get to taste often. It’s the kind of unique dining experience we love that you can only find at the best restaurants in NYC.
While Keens could easily fit in the “treat yourself” category, we think that it makes an excellent restaurant for visitors because it’s the quintessential NYC steakhouse experience. Feel like one of the big wigs who came here in the late 1800s and early 1900s as you dive into a massive steak, sip on martinis, and eat one of the best mutton chops you’ve ever had. It’s a decadent experience for sure, but New York is all about those glamorous moments.
The East Village is home to some of the best restaurants in NYC, and Veselka stays on that list because of it’s great “Ukrainian soul food.” The restaurant has been in the neighborhood since the 1950s, making pierogis, stuffed cabbage, borscht, and more for Eastern European immigrants and locals alike. Bring your visitors here so they can have a taste of history, and sit in the middle of one of New York’s coolest neighborhoods. It’s a prime spot for brunch, people watching, and even late night eating.
Of course, we couldn’t write a list about the best restaurants in NYC to take visitors without a pizza spot. There are so many of them that it can get very intimidating, especially when your guests are looking for infamous NYC pizza. Rubirosa is an excellent choice for great pies that check off all the boxes. Get the vodka pie, of course, and don’t sleep on the other delicious Italian dishes.
Peking Duck House
First, take your guests on a walk through Chinatown, taking in all gems you can find in the neighborhood. Feel free to stop for dumplings or pork buns along the way, but save room for the final stop: Peking Duck House. A full peking duck meal is a delicious way to show off a glorious meal in Chinatown and leave them feeling satisfied. Order a bunch of other dishes to round out the meal, and don’t forget the alcohol— Peking Duck House happens to be BYOB, so you don’t need to worry about alcohol preferences or splitting the bill for non-drinkers.
When you dine at Maison Premiere, you can travel to the French Quarter in New Orleans without ever leaving Williamsburg. You’re immediately transported the moment you walk into the restaurant— the marble horseshoe bar filled with spirits in antique bottles is enough to make anyone swoon. In fact, we swoon every time we visit on our Williamsburg tour! Your guests will surely be impressed by the impressive oyster list, New Orleans classics, and absinthe. Yes, really. The absinthe cocktails can’t be missed, but just make sure you don’t have solid plans for afterwards because you’ll want to spend more time eating and drinking.
Russ & Daughters Cafe
Bagels and New York are synonymous, and we know your guests are looking for a good one. But why stop at getting a bagel to-go when you can get some of the best Jewish food in the city? Russ & Daughters has been in business since 1907, starting as a stand and turning into one of the most iconic delis in the city. In 2014, they expanded into a cafe where you can sit and enjoy their bagels, lox, latkes, and more.
Nom Wah Tea Parlor
Another oldie but a goodie that’s been around since 1920. Nom Wah Tea Parlor started as a Chinese bakery and expanded into serving dim sum which has cemented its status as a Chinatown staple. Dim sum is what you want to get for sure. Order perfect shrimp and snow pea leaf dumplings, rice rolls, scallion pancakes, and whatever else tickles your fancy. Your guests will also enjoy the walk to get there— Doyers Street is bright and colorful, plus the walk through Chinatown is always fun. You might even see something delicious to eat on your way there.
Got guests with a sweet tooth? As soon as you walk into Veniero’s, you’re immediately enticed with a long case of Italian pastries and other desserts that will make you stop in your tracks. Being in business for over 125 years definitely means you know a thing or two about pastries. This former social club for other Italian immigrants is now a mainstay in the East Village for cannolis, gelato, rainbow cookies, and cheesecakes, among other delectable baked goods. We think it’s an unmissable stop when you’re visiting NYC, which is why we keep it on our East Village food tour.
Superiority Burger has one of the best veggie burgers in the city, hands down. It also happens to make a great quick lunch. Since there’s no indoor seating, simply order your veggie burger and whatever else is on special that day (the ice cream is definitely worth it), and take your meal back to the office or enjoy it outdoors. We recommend ordering two veggie burgers not just because you’ll want more than one, but because they are a bit small. However, that just means more burger and we don’t have a problem with that.
Dumplings are perfect any time of day, but especially when you need a quick bite. Mimi Cheng’s has got great classic dumplings like pork and chive, side dishes like dan dan noodles and scallion pancakes, and a house dumpling sauce that will have you looking for more food to keep dipping. But the best part is their monthly dumpling special that combines their expertise in dumpling making with unexpected fillings. Previous specials have been meatball marinara, buffalo chicken, lamb gyro, just to name a few. It’s a quick, satisfying meal, and the monthly special gives you an excuse to keep going back.
Xi’an Famous Foods
Xi’an Famous Foods is especially great on a day when you don’t know what to eat, you need to decide fast, and you need to eat it quick. This local New York franchise is a staple and you can find one in many locations. And it’s a favorite for a reason— hand pulled noodles coated in a savory, spicy cumin broth with lamb will warm any cold New York heart. Whether you grab it on your lunch break or need a trustworthy quick stop, Xi’an Famous Foods will be there for you.
Los Tacos No 1
For some of the best tacos in NYC, head to Los Tacos No 1. Three friends from Mexico and California decided that NYC was missing some of the authentic flavors they grew up with, and they were right. Los Tacos No 1. serves up classic Mexican tacos, salsas, drinks, and more for some of the best Mexican food you can find in the city. The adobada is the star, marinated pork that’s to die for. While the lines can get long at all their locations, the food comes out fast and your tacos will be gone before you know it. You might even want another order, and we wouldn’t blame you for that.
Court Street Grocers
Nothing say quick and satisfying like a sandwich. Court Street Grocers is one such place where the sandwiches are good, you can get one in a pinch, and you’ll always be satisfied. Fill your belly with a breakfast sandwich great for a fast brunch, a hearty reuben, or one of the best turkey sandwiches you’ve ever had. Bring it to a picnic, order it for lunch, or grab a sandwich when you really need one.
The Halal Guys
The smells of a halal cart while walking down the street will make your stomach grumble whether you are hungry or not. The Halal Guys started as a carts, but long lines and a devoted fanbase as turned these carts into an empire. You can still find The Halal Guy carts, but now there’s brick-and-mortar locations around the city. A big platter of chicken, rice, salad, and pita doused in white sauce is a quick meal, but depending on your appetite it’s possible you’ll have leftovers!
Grab a bowl of ramen to fill your belly in a pinch. Totto Ramen brings the traditional Japanese style ramen restaurant to the city, and the concept is the same— good food quick. Ramen is actually more of a solo dining experience than you might realize, so if you need a fast meal, we recommend heading to Totto. Totto Ramen serves a Hakata style, which means chewy, wavy noodles. Your broth choices range from spicy, miso, to vegetable. You might need a quick bite, but a satisfying bowl of ramen from Totto is an escape.
Dhamaka has been making waves since it opened, being home to some of the best Indian food in NYC. The dishes are mouthwatering from start to finish, from perfectly cooked, buttery prawns to pressure cooker briryani that’s an absolute explosion of flavor. But the real treat yourself moment is the Rajastani Khargosh, the whole rabbit dinner that requires you to order it 48-hours in advance. Order that and everything else on the menu for an absolute feast.
Dirt Candy is a vegetable restaurant, yes a vegetable restaurant, not vegetarian or vegan. The philosophy here is that vegetables are candy from the dirt, and they should be cooked with as much care, decadence, and creativity as meat. This means eating some of the best vegetable dishes you’ve ever had, with the best seasonal produce. For us, treating yourself means memorable meals and dinners you’ll crave, and an evening spent at Dirt Candy is one of those.
Korean barbecue goes upscale at Cote. Fine cuts of beef, perfect dishes of banchan, and intimate tables in a sleek dining room will make you feel like a king yourself. Cote bills itself as the first Korean American steakhouse, with offerings on the menu like a wedge salad, caviar, shrimp cocktail, and other steakhouse classics with a Korean twist. But truly the beef is the star— only the finest USDA cuts are available and each piece is cooked to perfection. It’s a can’t miss when it comes to the best restaurants in NYC for flavor, elegance, and fun because come on….having your food cooked at your table is always cool.
Michelin Food Tour
Why go to one Michelin-starred restaurant when you can go to four? Go all out for a treat yourself moment that will take you to some of the best restaurants in NYC with unique approaches to food. Enjoy anything from fine French dining, innovative Korean, and perhaps the best deviled egg you’ve ever eaten. Get picked up in a luxury car to travel around in style, a personal tour guide, and reservations at Michelin-starred spots. A progressive food tour is a great way to treat yourself, friends, family, impress clients, and get a taste of some of the best food NYC has to offer.
When you want to treat yourself, eat as the French do— enjoy fresh bread with great butter, mountains of frites, juicy steak, creamy cheese, and bottles of wine. And do it at Frenchette, a restaurant that will let you pretend you’re French, just for a little bit. This 2015 James Beard Winner for Best New Restaurant oozes elegance and charm. You might even be inspired to get on the next plane to France after your meal.
The freshest seafood is pure luxury, and Le Bernandin has made it part of their philosophy. With multiple rave review from The New York Times and James Beard Award accolades, this destination belongs on the best restaurants in NYC list. The experience is bound to be filled with melt in your mouth seafood, great flavors, and perfect wines to accompany it all. And just like chef Eric Ripert says, “…food is about memories, feelings, emotions, and so is Le Bernardin, and that’s why it’s not just a restaurant.” So what are you waiting for?
Nothing like a tasting menu for a treat yourself meal! What’s great about Momofuku Ko is that the tasting menu dishes gets gradually larger. Instead of multiple small bites, you’ll essentially get a full meal. You’d be happy eating at any of the Momofuku restaurants, but Momofuku Ko is nice when you really want to celebrate. The unique blend of flavors, sleek but not stuffy atmosphere, and great location equals a good night out.
It’s almost impossible to put together a list of the best restaurants in NYC, purely because there are so many options. But that’s one thing we love about this city— you can find something unique, delicious, great, quirky, or elegant on almost every corner. We believe it’s one of the best places to eat in the world, and while we might be bias, we think you will too.